"The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund supports Stephanie Herseth Sandlin because she has defended the Second Amendment freedoms of law-abiding gun owners, hunters and sportsmen in South Dakota and across America," said NRA-PVF Chairman Chris W. Cox. "On November 2, I urge all South Dakota NRA Members and gun owners to vote Stephanie Herseth Sandlin for Congress" [Michael O'Brien, "Key House Dem Snags NRA's Backing in Reelection Effort," TheHill.com, 2010.09.28].
In a September 23 letter, the NRA's Political Victory Fund informed Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin that the NRA was endorsing her and maintaining her "A" rating.
The Noem camp responded by touting an endorsement from a gaggle of South Dakota gun owners for whom even the NRA isn't nutty enough about guns. Her gun-owning endorsers include the likes of Second Amendment Sister Nancy First, who thinks we should let everyone carry guns in kindergartens, courthouses, and bars.
The Noem peanut gallery is desperately trying to spin the NRA's endorsement of Herseth Sandlin as insignificant. Some commenters are crying that the NRA is required by its by-laws to endorse incumbents. Not true. While the NRA-PVF's endorsement policy is "incumbent-friendly" (a logical position for an organization interested in maximizing leverage via seniority in Congress), the NRA is still free to withhold endorsements from incumbents it feels aren't doing its bidding. For example, the NRA is not endorsing incumbent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada. If the NRA thought Herseth Sandlin was bad for its interests, the NRA could easily send that message.
Now I don't consider an NRA endorsement cause for celebration. Just a few weeks ago, I gave some poor telemarketer an earful for reading Wayne LaPierre's scripted lies to me over the phone in a push poll (don't these people keep track of past calls?). The NRA's gun-worship distracts us from solving real problems. I look forward to the day when someone who gets an F from the NRA can win an election in South Dakota.
But I can also acknowledge the political climate for what it is and revel in watching conservatives now blaspheme their usual electoral God. Gun advocates, you may think Kristi Noem is your little Annie Oakley, but the great and powerful National Rifle Association recognizes that Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is the right choice for making sure no one comes to pry your guns out of your hands.
Extremist views, ill-considered publicity stunts, sinking poll numbers, failure to grasp practical policy... Kristi Noem is turning out to be nothing more than Bruce Whalen in cowgirl boots.